Exhale Notre Dame fans.
The No. 9 Fighting Irish entered their matchup with Louisville at Cardinal Stadium on Monday as the heavy favorites and managed to come away with a 35-17 win. But, it wasn’t easy.
This wasn’t the exact start Notre Dame was hoping for and they’ll be happy to leave Louisville with a victory.
Here are three takeaways from Notre Dame’s win
Louisville gave Notre Dame a scare
This one was far too close for comfort.
The Cardinals hung right with the Fighting Irish for the first two and half quarters and made them feel uncomfortable.
The Fighting Irish failed to find an offensive rhythm in the first half and Louisville effectively limited its opposition’s passing game for much of the night. Notre Dame, however, finally managed to take control after quarterback Ian Book threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Tremble with a little more than eight minutes to play in the third quarter to put his team ahead 28-14.
From there, the Fighting Irish added a fourth-quarter score to seal the win.
Notre Dame relies on the run game
Notre Dame managed to overcome an inconsistent showing from Book thanks in large part to an impressive ground attack.
Tony Jones Jr. rushed for 112 yards, Book added another 81 and three different players scored at least one rushing touchdown (Jones, Book and Jahmir Smith).
Book took over for Brandon Wimbush early in 2018 and flourished, completing 68.2% of his passes while throwing 19 touchdowns to seven interceptions. Many expected him to take a step forward as a senior. Yet, that didn’t happen in the opener as he finished the game 14-of-23 passing for 193 yards with the touchdown.
Scott Satterfield has Louisville headed in the right direction
The Cardinals were basically noncompetitive last season.
Louisville finished with a 2-10 record, ended the year on a nine-game losing streak and surrendered 50 or more points in six of their last seven games.
So, to simply be competitive against a top-10 team in the country is a big step forward for new Louisville coach Scott Satterfield, who was hired away from Appalachian State in early December to replace Bobby Petrino.
The Cardinals will have a chance to be much improved in 2019, but will need to cut back on their turnovers - they had three in the game.